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Westside subway project hearings getting underway; Beverly Hills objects to tunneling under homes, schools

September 20, 2010 |  8:11 am

Transit officials are slated to decide Oct. 28 on the routing and station placement for the long-anticipated Westside subway extension -- and there is some debate about exactly where the rail line would run.

Starting Monday night, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority will host the first of five meetings to hear public input on alternative routes.

Release of the project's draft environmental impact report Sept. 3 started the clock ticking on a 45-day public comment period. The meetings on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Sept. 27 and 29 will allow interested parties to comment live.

The report analyzed five proposed routes, including a nine-mile continuation to Westwood, a 12-mile run to Santa Monica and a 17.5-mile option that would include stops in Santa Monica and West Hollywood. It also looked at the option of not building a subway or of increasing the frequency of bus service.

Projected costs range from $4.2 billion to $9 billion. Based on current available funding from Measure R, the voter-approved sales tax increase for a dozen highway and transit projects, and an anticipated federal match, the Purple Line subway could make it to Westwood or a bit farther to the Veterans Affairs campus, according to Jody Litvak, project spokeswoman.

Despite growing support for the project as a way of alleviating congestion, plenty of disagreement remains. One issue is whether tunneling might reduce property values by undermining houses or causing long-term rumbling. Perhaps the biggest bone of contention that has emerged recently is the routing through Century City.

The city of Beverly Hills strongly advocates running the line under Santa Monica Boulevard with a station at Avenue of the Stars, as Metro had long envisioned. But under an alternative that the transit agency unveiled a few months ago, the station would be moved a block south to the corner of Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars, in the middle of Century City. The shift would require tunneling under private residences and schools, including Beverly Hills High.

"Santa Monica Boulevard is the one we'll be strongly pushing for, not underneath our homes or our schools," Beverly Hills Mayor Jimmy Delshad said.

Read the full story here.

-- Martha Groves